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Assessing Breast Cancer Risk and Providing Treatment Recommendations: Immediate Impact of an Educational Session


  • Presented in part at the 27th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, December 2004 and supported by the Illinois Department of Public Health Penny Severns Breast and Cervical Cancer Grant.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sheryl G.A. Gabram, MD, MBA, 1365C Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, 30322 GA, USA, or e-mail:


Abstract:  The widespread availability of information regarding advancements in breast cancer care has heightened public awareness about risk and prevention, but there is limited knowledge as to the translation of these evolving advancements into physician practice patterns. The purpose of this study was to: (a) determine current practice patterns/treatment recommendations for evaluating patients at high-risk for breast cancer and (b) measure the immediate effect of an educational session on new knowledge acquired for high-risk patients. Five thousand and one health care provider surveys were sent to physicians in the greater Chicago area. The survey inquired about practice patterns and offered an opportunity to attend an educational session utilizing our “Spectrum of Care Options” framework. To evaluate session effectiveness, pre and post-tests were administered to participants. Of 767 survey respondents, 78 attended an educational session, 64 completed a pre and post-test, and 65 completed program evaluations. Pretest scores averaged 67.1% correct (range = 29–100%, SD = 15.8%) while post-test scores averaged 80.3% correct (range = 59–100%, SD = 11.0%), p < 0.0001. Participants rated the following on a 1–5 (poor to excellent) Likert scale (average scores): presentations 4.74, instructional materials 4.58, usefulness to practice 4.60, new knowledge gained 4.71, and likelihood of changing practice 4.49. Primary care physicians and surgeons are interested in identifying and treating high-risk patients, but may lack sufficient state-of-the art knowledge to do so. An educational session providing information on this subject, based on Spectrum of Care Options, significantly improved their knowledge and may influence their future practices.

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